“With great power comes great responsibility.” These are the words first written in Stan Lee’s Marvel Universe’s “Spider-Man”. The phase is attributed to Uncle Ben, the surrogate father of Peter Parker, also known as Spiderman. In the comic, Uncle Ben is killed by a burglar who Spider-Man had noticed earlier on but chosen not to pursue. In seeing the fatal consequences of his decision not to pursue this burglar, Peter rises up to fulfil the responsibilities of his superhero gift in Spider-Man.
Though we have no Spiderman-type powers, we as Christians have been anointed with great power, power that exceeds that of any fictional superhero. We have been given the Spirit of God that we might understand what God has freely given us [1 Corinthians 2:12]. What has God freely given us? Ephesians 1:4-8 has an answer:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
God has given us redemption through the blood of Jesus. This is the gift He has freely given us, a gift which restores us to Him in intimate relationship according to his pleasure and will, and a gift which allows us to give full glory to Him. As adopted sons in the kingdom of God, we are given an inheritance, and with that, we are given responsibility. “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” [Luke 12:48b]
The man who raised Peter Parker was killed when Spiderman acted out of laziness and irresponsibility. He saw the burglar but consciously decided not to give chase. Adam and Eve saw the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and knew its fruit was forbidden. Yet, they consciously decided to take its fruit and eat it. Because of this, sin came into the world and death was released to reign. The death of Uncle Ben caused Peter Parker to realise his irresponsibility, change his attitude and live out his superhero responsibilities. The death and resurrection of Jesus opens our eyes to see our sin, transforms our hearts and anoints us to live as stewards of His mysteries [1 Corinthians 4:1] and of his earth [Psalm 115:16].
The Power of the Spirit
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do because I go to my Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
These are the words of Jesus spoken in [John 14:12-14]. Pretty powerful words; and their power extends to more than just words when we understand what Jesus is saying here. First, we understand that these words are true. “Most assuredly,” Jesus says. There is no perhaps or maybe, but there is a definite consequence to a clear motive – something that WILL happen. The promise is that we will be equipped to do the works that Jesus did, and greater works that those. Why? Jesus says the reason is because He Himself will go to the Father when we ask it in His Name, our motive being as His is – that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If we ask something that is to the glory of God, it WILL be done.
How do we know to ask in such a way that glorifies God? John 15:7-8 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this, My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” So, when we abide in Christ, and His living word abides in us, our desires become aligned with God’s. Therefore, the things we ask are aligned with His will, and it will be done for His glory. This is a glimpse of the perfect unity we will be brought into with Christ when He returns – a oneness of truth and spirit as we are joined with Christ, just as He is joined with Father and Holy Spirit. Here are a few things Jesus reminds us of as we pursue this oneness:
1. God’s WORD – “If you love Me, keep My commandments” [John 14:15]
If we want to know God’s desires, we need to know His commands – not just know what they are, but to know them in our hearts so that it translates to a lifestyle of honouring God. Psalm 119:9-9 says, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” We cannot neglect the word of God if we are to ask for things in accordance to it.
2. The HOLY SPIRIT – “…I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” [John 14:16-17]
Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit who is with us and in us. In John 16:14 describes the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing to us the things of God – “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” We need to know the Holy Spirit, to communicate with Him, and to be aware of Him. It is the Holy Spirit who will reveal revelation of Christ, and Christ will give us revelation of the Father. The Holy Spirit does many things, some of which are mentioned in John 16:8-11 – “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement; of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.” With the Holy Spirit in us, we are able to discern, understand these things of God, and to share it in love with others. In fact, we are given a commission and authority to do so. I don’t mean that we should force these things on others; but rather, that we are able to share these things because of our understanding of them, and because of the testimony they build in our lives – the Holy Spirit abiding in us. The fruit of the Spirit, present in our lives is a powerful testimony! Signs and wonders will happen. Dreams and visions will happen. And, more wonderful and powerful than all these, is the ongoing testimony of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit in us – the example of our lives, and the love expressed in all our relationships.
3. RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS – “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
We need Jesus. The Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus – always. We cannot know the Father’s heart, or understand His ways, unless we know His Son. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[John 14:6] With the Holy Spirit in us, we are powerful in this world. Yet, we are also highly accountable to God. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 reminds us of this accountability – “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” Will it be found pleasing to God? Our life and witness on earth is successful only if we abide in Christ. We may not be successful in worldly wealth, but we are sure to be found fruitful in Christ – this is a wealth that never fades, and a life that endures forever. How do we abide? The simple answer is to know Jesus, and to invest in a real, growing relationship with Him.